Use of “A Swedish Tiger” by Aron Flam is not a copyright infringement

The Patent and Market Court at Stockholm District Court writes in its judgement published last week, that the comedian and author Aron Flam’s illustrated tiger on the cover of the book “This is a Swedish Tiger” was a parodic element and not a copyright infringement. The reworked version by Aron Flam of “A Swedish Tiger” showed a tiger with a swastika on one paw and the other paw raised in a Nazi salute.

The iconic image created in 1941 by the cartoonist and author Bertil Almqvist was launched during World War II by the State Information Board with double message. The campaign called on the citizen to respect Sweden’s neutrality policy during the war and its relations to Nazi Germany and the Allies but also presented a picture of Sweden as being strong and dangerous as a tiger. In the published book by Aron Flam with the cover of the discussed tiger, the Swedish neutrality during World War II is questioned and criticised.

The Emergency Management Museum, which owns the copyright to the image created by Bertil Almqvist, sued Flam for allegedly violating its copyright and requested him to delete the image from the cover page or destroy the book.

The central question in this case was whether Flam’s tiger was sufficiently independent or whether it constituted a violation of copyright law.

The copyright legislation provides an exhaustive list of exceptions to the right of reproduction of works protected by copyright. Among the exceptions, which are grounded in the freedom of expression is the “use for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche”.

According to the Patent and Market Court at Stockholm District Court, Aron Flam’s use of the tiger falls under the parody exception and doesn’t constitute a violation of copyright.

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